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[shahr-puh n] /ˈʃɑr pən/
verb (used with or without object)
to make or become sharp or sharper.
Origin of sharpen
late Middle English
late Middle English word dating back to 1400-50; See origin at sharp, -en1
Related forms
sharpener, noun
presharpen, verb (used with object)
resharpen, verb
unsharpened, adjective
unsharpening, adjective
well-sharpened, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for sharpened
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He sharpened his blade for the coming duel with Anne, whom Monsignor had warned, without doubt.

    The Art of Disappearing John Talbot Smith
  • They live by hunting, and carry lances of wood, sharpened at the point.

  • He was staring hard at Baumberger, and his whole face had sharpened till it had the cold, unyielding look of an Indian.

    Good Indian B. M. Bower
  • That sharpened his teeth, and gave him a taste for woman's blood.

    The Art of Disappearing John Talbot Smith
  • He was a wise man, he said, and though God had deprived him of sight, He had sharpened his intellect.

    Fire and Sword in the Sudan Rudolf C. Slatin
British Dictionary definitions for sharpened


to make or become sharp or sharper
(music) to raise the pitch of (a note), esp by one chromatic semitone Usual US and Canadian word sharp
Derived Forms
sharpener, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for sharpened



1520s, "bring to an edge or point," from sharp (adj.) + -en (1). Related: Sharpened; sharpening. Old English verb scearpian meant "to score, scarify;" cf. scearpung "scarifying." To sharpen (one's) pencil "prepare to get to work" is from 1957, American English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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